Archive for November, 2009

Connie and I are busy making the chow.

I have all ready had my first glass of Carlo. Fine wine can be enjoyed all hours of the day- 5pm rule need not apply.

Oh the boys?

They’re in my gym, shirtless, working off the Thanksgiving dinner they haven’t eaten yet.  When I went down to check on them Cayden was running in place (pretty common for Mr. High-Energy) and Mack was standing in front of the mirror stroking what he  believes to be his first armpit hair. 

I’m not surprised nor am I concerned.  Both of my boys are convinced they are in the throes of puberty.  Two days ago they got in an argument over who needed to wear deodorant and who didn’t.  We all agreed that Mack warranted his own bottle of speed stick, but Cayden still smelled pretty good- he was extremely distraught.  To make him feel better I told him that his Fu-Manchu made up for his lack of body odor.  He’s been rubbing his upper lip ever since. 

Man I’m quick on my feet…

Connie e-mailed me this photo the other day.  I’m not really sure what her motivation was to do so. 

Maybe she thought that the sight of my sons modeling Hershey Kiss nipples would make me swell with fatherly pride?

Or, maybe the doughy sugar coated aereole were meant to remind me to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work and pick up  eggs, milk and bread?

Or, maybe it’s a desperate cry a cry for help?

“HELP!  The boys broke into the cupboard while I was working and baked themselves up a fresh batch of silver dollar sized nipples- they’ve been running amok tweaking their Hershey Kisses all afternoon- get home soon!

 No matter how you slice it the end the result is the same- I’m afraid to go to work, I’m not sure what will happen while I’m gone…

Cayden’s seven years old and until the other night he was able to retain every single one of his baby teeth.  This isn’t completely unheard of.  Plenty of kids hold onto their primary teeth for even longer than that but this fact did little to ease Cayden’s frustration.  He was tired of being the only kid in 1st grade without a huge gaping hole in his front grill.  As an aside, isn’t it strange that kids consider a toothless smile a sign of prestige as where adults see it as a sign of poor dental hygiene or methamphetamine addiction?

 

Regardless, Cayden was eager to lose his petite little tic-tac teeth and acquire some big honking “Sponge Bob” fangs.  So two nights ago when he announced that he had a wiggly one- he was most excited.  Losing your first baby tooth is a noteworthy milestone- and unlike learning how to use the potty this one came with a cash reward.

 

For two days the kid worked feverishly on his loose tooth.  He wiggled it, pushed it, twisted it and tugged it.  I got so used to seeing his hands elbow deep in his “soup-cooler” that I stopped putting silverware at his place setting.  Think about it, what’s the point of giving a handless kid eating utensils?  It’s just plain mean. 

 

But, no matter how much effort he expended the tooth refused to budge.  So like every other job that fails to be accomplished by lesser means he called in some heavy artillery- he asked Dad for help. 

 

Cayden- “Dad can you help me pull out my tooth?”

Dad- (feigning excitement) “Don’t move I’ll go get my vice grips!”

Cayden- “Uggggghhhh, Daaaaaad- NO, sob, sob, snivel, snort…

Dad- “Dude, relax I was only joking- channel lock pliers are more appropriate”

Cayden- “Whoosh!” (That’s the sound my son makes when running at the speed of light)

 

Maybe I should have been more sensitive- but I’m not completely at fault.  Cayden should assume some responsibility for my callous humor- after all he’s the one who asked a retired Marine to perform a potentially painful dental procedure on him-  that’s about as intelligent as licking Hannibal Lecter’s lips.

 

I was finally able to coax Cayden out from behind the love seat by promising him that I wouldn’t use anything harder than dental floss to extract his tooth.   He did however, demand a thorough explanation of the procedure before completely letting his guard down.

 

I asked him sit at the counter and lean his head back.  I then tied a slip knot on a long piece of dental floss and slid it over the wiggly tooth.  Cayden looked concerned (terrified) so I let him hold the loose end of the string.

 

Cayden- “What now Dad?”

Dad- “Well buddy we’re going to go upstairs to your bedroom, tie the string to your bedpost and then I’m going to heave you out the window J

Cayden- “ugggghhhhhh Mommmmmm! Dad’s gonna throw me out the window!”

Dad- “Shush boy, you’re going to get me in trouble”.

 

While Cayden weighed his options for escape I grabbed his hand, the one holding the string, and gave it a sharp tug.  I figured it best to make him the responsible party.  That way if things went south he would only have himself to blame.

 

Result- Blood (but only a little), tears and several quick but painful jabs to my upper torso- Cayden was less than pleased.  He was even less pleased when he realized the tooth was still stuck in his face.  I didn’t think of that possibility so I had no pre-planned response designed to calm him down.  The befuddled look on my face sent him running to find his mother.

 

Thankfully, before he had the opportunity to tattle on me the tooth fell out.  I’m positive I had something to do with it- but since it didn’t happen right in front of me I got absolutely no credit.  Life is so unfair.  Next time I’m using an ice skate and a rock- that shit worked in “Cast Away” (Tom Hanks is a national treasure) it’s bound to work on the boys…

Remembered…

November 11, 2009

I’m thinking of you today Andy. 

I do that a lot- but more so on days like today.

I promise to write your mom and dad and let them know.

They’ll probably get choked up- but don’t worry, hearing from one of us never fails to make them smile.

You see your loss is painful for them- but not quite as painful as thinking their son is forgotten by his fellow Marines. 

I promise I won’t let that happen.

I’ll let them know that I remember.

That I’ll always remember.

Happy Veteran’s Day Andy

Veteran’s Day (re-released)

November 11, 2009

Veterans Day has recently come and gone and I realized that I failed to mention it.  I guess I got wrapped up in thinking that Veteran’s Day was my holiday, sometimes it’s easy to do.  The wife takes you to lunch, family members call to thank you for your service, people stop you on the street to shake your hand; it can be a bit overwhelming.  However, this is no excuse for my negligence.  Currently my Marine brothers and sisters are deployed around the world fighting a war that is less than popular against an enemy who refuses to fight by the rules.  These are the folks that Veteran’s Day is meant for- the 19-year old kid making life or death decisions that no-one should ever be faced with; not the guy enjoying the relative comfort of a desk job at the Pentagon.  At lteast that’s my take on it.

So I pulled out a letter I wrote when I was deployed to Iraq in 2003.  At the time I was a company commander with 180 Marines to lead and we had been conducting operations in Iraq for several weeks.  Somehow, I came across an article discussing the “Greatest Generation” i.e. those folks who fought during World War II and how this generation of young warriors matched up.  It was less than flattering, so I scribbled down some thoughts as a rebuttle.  Things got busy so I never published my thoughts, but I’ll do so now.  Maybe this will explain to you what it’s like to serve with this generation of men and women.  Maybe it will explain why I’ve been a Marine for so many years- or maybe you’ll pick up on the admiration and flat-out love I have for those so willing to give everything they have to our great Nation.

I had reservations about posting this letter, some of it may appear to be politically charged, but that’s not my intent.  I serve at the discretion of the President of the United States, and I have served both Republican and Democrats in my 20 plus years.  Simply stated, I’ll serve President Elect Obama, just as I served President Bush; with loyalty, devotion and honor.

So here are my words from May of 2003 while deployed to Iraq:

 

I have heard so many speak of the troubled youth of today.

I’ve heard the complaints aimed at the Pepsi Generation or Nintendo generation or whatever title it currently holds.

“When I was a kid we played baseball, kickball, and spin the bottle”

Kids today have Play Stations, experiment with synthetic drugs, and have an alarming rate of teenage pregnancy.

They are a motley crew; lazy, inconsiderate and self absorbed.

They have no respect for property, authority or their elders.

“When I was a kid we recited the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of every school day, this new generation has no concept of duty, pride or patriotism”

What an ugly portrait we paint of youth and freedom; of our sons and daughters.

 

I have heard so much in my short life about “the new generation”.

Was there ever a time when one generation looked to the newcomer and said “Your generation is airtight, locked on, squared away”?  I doubt it.

Here is what I believe about this new generation.

 

These are my observations from the front lines of this rising generation.

What I see everyday is amazing.

I see 18, 19, and 20 year-old men and women working hand in hand 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

They do not receive time off or a bonus for their efforts.

They live in the dirt away from their families and all they have known their short lives.

And yes, they have families.

They have 19-year old wives and brand new babies.

Yesterday’s high school sweet hearts suddenly caught up in the reality of nation at war.

Their families live in substandard housing and they receive paychecks that most would consider an insult.

They will endure months of separation often unable to even speak to the one’s they love.

 

And late at night they will suddenly find themselves praying for the safety of their mate even though they’ve never been a firm believer in any faith.

They will cry.

Some will be strong and some will not.

Babies will learn to crawl, walk, speak, and run while their fathers are away.

Sons and daughters will learn the word “Daddy” but only in the context of a photo.

Daddy is a glossy 8X10 sitting on his son’s nightstand.

His son will talk to the picture but it will never answer.

The picture will never caress his head when he is scared or bandage a boo-boo.

How sad for the child who has nothing but a photo.

 

But the new generation tries not to think about such trivial things as family.

They are preparing for war, our nation’s war, yours and mine.

They are the chosen few who showed enough courage to step forward instead of looking down.

Somewhere in their 18, 19 and 20 year old minds they heard the words courage and patriotism.

They heard their Nation’s call, to risk everything for something that was much bigger than any one person could be.

They are the men and women that historians will write about taking part in things that will shape nations.

They are a motley crew.

They are yesterday’s high school prom king, captain of the football team, gang member, or misfit.

They came from everywhere and no-where.

They did not believe the propaganda that their generation was a failure doomed to obscurity.

They came to fight.

They came to carry a rifle, drive a tank, stand a post.

They are 18, 19, 20-years old but they carry the weight of a million people on their shoulders.

Yet they stand tall, defiant as if our Nation’s hopes weren’t a burden at all, but a blessing.

They have faced the dragon, putting their lives on the line for at best a fickle public.

Perched on the cutting edge of the sword they face-off with a multi-dimensional threat, terrorist and combatants alike, and still they somehow manage to smile when they look to their left and right at the buddies who serve beside them.

And when I look at them I know with all my heart that I love them.

 

Here is my dilemma I am a company commander up from the ranks.

I have been in tough situations before; I am what some would consider a veteran.

And when your 33-years old surrounded by today’s youth it is almost impossible not to become someone’s Dad.

You are the old man.

You are the father some never knew.

You will praise those who have never been praised before.

And you will discipline those who are used to running free.

You can clip wings or release someone’s potential in an instant.

You may be the only person who truly understands that the youth of today will become the saviors of tomorrow.

I do.

You will feel the sting of their problems and accept them as your own; you will guide them through troubled times whenever you are needed; leadership is a selfless act.

I have.

You will come to know them in an intimate manner that can only be fostered when faced with the threat of danger, and you will love them for their courage.

I will.

What I have discovered through my career is that above all else I fear for their safety.

Right or wrong that is my greatest concern, I fear for them because their youth does not allow them to fear for themselves.

I am faced with the reality that I would never fully recover from the loss of one of my Marines, and sadly I can say with regret that I know this to be true.

 

For those of you who have the luxury of sitting in your homes and questioning our President’s course of action, good on you, that’s your right.

Just understand how your criticisms impact the 19-year old Marine about to cross the line of departure.

If you have never carried a rifle in the defense of those liberties which you so freely exercise, then support those that do.

Support YOUR president for he is faced with the decision of putting young men and women into harm’s way.

He is faced with making decisions beyond what any of us could ever fathom.

And he will live with the consequences of those decisions for the rest of his life.

Few men would willingly take his place.

 

These are the rambling thoughts of one Marine.

Other than that I am simply a husband who misses his wife.

A father who wants to hold his children.

And a wayward son who should call his mother more often.

 

I wonder how many…

November 9, 2009

I wonder how many more nights I can sleep face to face with a sick child before I too am afflicted with the same nasty virus that’s coursing through his 50lb body?

I wonder how many more Pedialyte freezer pop stains I can mop up before I get stuck to the living room floor like a giant mouse on one of those inhumane sticky strips with the only avenue of escape being that I chew off my own feet.  Just to make you aware, a starving sewer rat wouldn’t touch my feet- so I’m less than thrilled about having to chew on them myself.

I wonder how many more cough drops I’ll find half eaten and ground into our carpet or how many times I’ll hurl myself across the counter to stop my kids from sharing cups of water.

I wonder if hand sanitizer is addictive- if so I’m a friggin junkie- I caught myself huffing on it like a Hobo with a cheap can of rustoleum.

I’ve got 83 used tissues in my front pocket, a thermometer in my back pocket and a half eaten Muscinex tablet held firmly between my cheek and gum.

Our kitchen counter looks like a country drug store- expectorant, decongestant, suppressant and some anti-biotics to add a dash of flavor.  If I had one of those cheap cocktail umbrellas I’d mix them all together and pretend I was in the Caribbean- but I’m not- and I won’t- they’re for my son- the sick one.

I guess the answer to most of these questions is as many as it takes.  I can’t handle the kids being sick.  I don’t like the thought of them waking up in the middle of the night feeling miserable and alone- so I’ll curl up with Cayden one more night.  It’s worth it- nothing defines parenting more than wiping a butt, cleaning your kids face with your own saliva or caring for them when they’re sick.

Besides in a few decades when I’m pooping my pants and can’t remember where I left my upper bridge I want a place to stay- so I guess it’s not completely altruistic…

Cayden is the exact same length as our bathtub.

This may not seem like a news worthy revelation to most- but to me it was a undeniable sign that my boys are growing up.  But why the bathtub? 

It wasn’t too long ago that both of the “man-beast” insisted that they bathe together.  It was also mandated that a vast array of toys (both aquatic and non-aquatic) would accompany them to the point that the weight of the toys would push the water table to the lip of the tub.

I hate bathtub toys.  

Especially, squeaky, plastic fish that suck up a quart of bath water every time you squeeze their obnoxious neon colored bodies.  Something you may not know- It only takes a week for mold to grow inside squeaky plastic fish.  Something else you may not know- my kids liked sucking the moldy water out of their bath toys almost as much as they liked squirting me in the face with moldy water.

Why else would I hate bath toys?  I guess the big reason is my kids never quite figured out how to put them away- and of course I never quite caught on to their inability to properly stow hard plastic action figures and pointy sailed water craft.  It’s not that I didn’t think about it on occasion.  It’s just that those occasions normally occurred at 5am when I was trying to quietly jump into the shower before going to work.  I can recall several extremely unhappy mornings tweezing G.I. Joe accessories from my feet praying for the day when my kids would be old enough to safely take a shower.

That day is here- they shower like little men.

Except when they’re sick- which Cayden currently is.

Cayden’s the same length as our tub.

He can’t swim laps anymore.

Nor does he desire a rubber Nemo filled to the brim with moldy lukewarm bath water.

He’ll still let me wash his hair and scrub his back- but only if he has a strategically placed wash cloth covering his man-parts (burgeoning humility?)

I still have the bathtub toys- I guess it’s probably safe to throw them out.

Funny, I couldn’t wait for this day to get here, now I’m not so sure I’m ready to let go.

If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…

Sarcasm noted…

November 3, 2009

I put the man-creatures to bed tonight and as usual I had to run through the litany of “what if” questions.  “Dad, what if I have a bad dream?”  “Dad, what if I fall out of bed?”  “Dad, what if I grow a third eye?”  And of course my personal all time favorite- “Dad, what if I forget how to fall asleep?” 

Normally, I have just enough patience left from the long work day to put up with the majority  of questions thrown my way- but tonight I was tired.  So instead of entertaining 300 “what if” questions with reasonable responses I let loose with a blast of sarcasm that ended up working against me.

Cayden- “Dad, what if I have to poop in the middle of the night and I can’t go because it’s stuck in  my butt?”

Dad- “Well Cayden, what if a monkey comes cartwheeling out of my butt and I become the “Amazing Baboon Ass” and run off with the circus never to be heard from again?

Silence

Giggle, chuckle, snot bubble, snort…

As I left the room the boys were still laughing.

As I walked down the stairs I could hear them discussing all of the possible objects that could come cartwheeling out of their rectums.

They’ll be up for hours now- all because Shane ran out of patience and let his sarcastic sense of humor get the better of him.

when will I ever learn?

Not worth recording…

November 3, 2009

 

Do you remember the “Recorder” from your early elementary school days? 

You know the quasi-musical instrument that resembles the flute but requires zero musical ability to operate.  It sort of sounds like a flute too, but since it requires zero musical ability it most often comes out sounding like an incoming artillery round.

If you have kids over the age of eight I’m certain you’ll know what I’m talking about.  It’s that thing you paid $11 for only to hide it under the couch two days after your kids brought it home because the three-notes they mastered caused the voices in your head to return.  Sound familiar?

I took care of Mack’s recorder long ago.  As soon as his class finished recorder season I made the beak (mouth piece) disappear and claimed ignorance as he spent the remainder of the school year searching for it.  I didn’t suffer a minute of guilt either- as far as I was concerned it was the recorder or my sanity- my sanity’s worth more than $11 so it was an easy decision.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, so I took the kids to the Dollar Tree yesterday because Grandma and Grandpa sent them $5 gift cards.  Wouldn’t you know it the Dollar Tree sells recorders. 

They cost a dollar. 

I argued with Cayden for twenty-minutes that he didn’t need five of them.  We compromised- he purchased one. 

Cayden played it all the way home. 

He knows one note. 

Furthermore, he blows with such intensity that he could extinguish the California wildfires with the shear volume of salvia shooting through the tone holes alone. 

Did you know that you can play “Mary had a Little Lamb” with a single note?  I didn’t either.  I also didn’t know that a seven-year old little boy could love the song so damn much that he would repeatedly play it for six consecutive hours.

The driver’s side headrest is sopping wet, my nerves are shot and I’m day dreaming about torching a certain discount store that sells cheap recorders.  On top of that I caught myself tapping along to Cayden’s one-note symphony- this is not good…